19 November 2020
View from the Cotswolds
Cummeth the hour, goeth the man: Farewell Ugly Duckling
By Paul Branch
It seems like only the other lockdown that the Dominic Cummings saga was making headlines (see also Shaw Sheet of 28 May), and finally, finally things have come to a head. Given the details that have emerged from behind the scenes at Number Ten, it would be difficult to make up a more ludicrous situation involving those elected to govern us and those who thought they had the authority to do so. But at least we have a new Carrie On comedy genre, with Boris exerting his new-found leadership skills in ways Cummings had previously told him not to.
Now fast forward to January 2021, a JobCentre office in Islington, and the following transcript of a client interview:
Interview with Mr D Cummings, 10:00 am, 5 January 2021:
Aah, Mr Cummings, bang on time I see, please take a seat and thank you for filling in the form. So, let’s have a look …
Education: Durham School, Exeter College (Oxford) 1st class degree in Ancient & Modern history – well done you, splendid! Not too sure how relevant that will be but let’s press on.
Previous employment: night club owner …. interesting, let’s hold that thought for later, may have something in that line ….. then a string of really short-term jobs in journalism …. sorry, I’ve never had the opportunity to read The Spectator …. and more recently you moved into politics working for ooooh some pretty important people I see: Ian Duncan Smith (not many laughs there I imagine), Michael Gove (not too sure about him – is he for real do you think?), and then winding up as …. my goodness, what a long title! … chief adviser to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom … that’ll be Boris then? Same university and newspaper as you … but I believe he read Classics And you say here you left on good terms back end of last year, always planned to leave then, and very amiable wrap-up meeting with your boss before walking out of the office front door with a cardboard box …. like all those bankers at Lehman Brothers back in 2008 or whenever … No parting shots, at Boris or his fiancée, no unnecessary nastiness? No? Excellent, good to hear that.
Ok, so let’s take a look through the Achievements section …. I see you focus on quite recent events but that’s good …. no need to dwell on the past I always say. Engineered successful Brexit referendum, worked on the implementation side as well with snappy slogans, and I see you did a bit of commercial vehicle respraying too … good idea to have some practical experience to fall back on …. then led Brexit negotiation strategy, withdrawal agreement, unilateral self-imposed amendment to withdrawal agreement (interesting one that, went down well did it?) and played a big part in directing negotiations … and all that turned out fine well then? At the same time I see you were also leading the government’s response to the pandemic: lockdowns, test and trace, clear communications, consultations with all interested parties, PPE procurement …. and including a really interesting point where you travelled to Durham non-stop one night …. ticks the medical and eyesight box, and speaks volumes for your bladder …. can’t be too careful at your age, especially in the prostate area. And goodness me, if that wasn’t enough, you’ve completely restructured the entire Whitehall political infrastructure! I’m tempted to ask what your boss was doing all that time ….
Now, let’s see what openings we have ….. I’ll look under political strategist first, and if there’s nothing there (bit quiet this time of year) we’ll see what’s available in night clubs and maybe bus maintenance if need be.
Aah, a few possibles …. couple of foreign openings first …. ever been to Rome? Chap there wants help reorganising his operations and diplomatic office, calls it his “Curia” …. needs to restructure entirely, get rid of dead wood, older personnel (bit like you and the virus I suppose), address a few outstanding legal issues especially with his London branch. But it says there’s a language requirement: do you speak Latin by any chance? Not one of your qualifications? No? Bet your old boss does, and Greek, but then I expect his job’s all Greek to him anyway now you’ve gone. Any thoughts on this one?
Thought not…. maybe not too many friends left in Europe perhaps … Moving on, chap in America, needs someone to help prepare for an election …. but I see that’s in a few years’ time ….. no?
Ok, so let’s look closer to home. Still on the political front, a Mr N Farage wants to start a new political party, main theme seems to be anti-lockdown …. bit narrow would you say? Previous Brexit and Covid experience essential …. that looks like you …. wants a mover and shaker, used to hiring like-minded folk tending towards weirdos or swivel-eyed loons it says here, must be prepared to travel across the country. Economy with the truth an advantage…. Sounds perfect …. ?
Ok, so, last one …. another new party, calls itself Momentum United, needs to regroup and rethink strategy, appeal to voters and media, fund raising, and so on and so forth. One special requirement: applicants must have a proven affinity for vegetable gardening and allotments. Quite handy for you, just up the road in Finsbury Park. A Mr J Corbyn … shall I arrange an inter…..
DC: (expletive deleted)
Well, that seems to be the end of those opportunities for now. Shall we take a look at night clubs? Couple of bouncer openings, looking for someone with an aggressive confrontational style … could be you …?
Aaah, I can see it’s not quite what you were looking for. Don’t worry about the chair Mr Cummings, we can put that back together again. Mind yourself on the way out with all those photographers.., and please don’t slam the … Byee ….
Interview terminated at 10:07 am
There once was an ugly duckling with feathers all scrubby and brown
And the other birds in so many words said Quack, get out of town ….
And he went with a quack and a waddle and a quack, and a very unhappy frown.